Billy Currington was born in segregated Mississippi in segregated times. He was one of five children who had been taken away from their parents at gunpoint while they were taken to their aunt’s white-owned home to spend the night. When Billy later returned home, all the white people had gone. He had little or no exposure to the outside world until he was a teenager listening to records on an old gospel album by a man calledeper James H. White. After hearing White’s music, Billy Currington decided that he would pursue a career in music.
Currington has said that his greatest musical influences were the men who shaped the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Ella herself and Boz Scaggs. The other notable African-American artist who also came from Mississippi when Billy was growing up was blues singer Bebel Gilroy. He is also thought to be one of the very first true crooners. According to Billy Currington’s web site, it was his friend Louis Prisley who introduced him to the words “sweet talking” when they were playing pool in Memphis, Tennessee. Other names that have been associated with Currington include crazy Horseman, Sweet Tomatoes, Honey Bee and the Crazy One, and just plain crazy Currier.
Billy Currington was born in Mississippi, but like many of his country counterparts, he spent much of his early days in Texas. This is indicated in the first verse of his cover of George Jones’ classic song, “Blue Moon of Kentucky”. In the song, Jones asks the listener if they’ve ever heard of Billy Currington. The lyrics give us our first glimpse into the life of Billy Currington, where he is from Mississippi but has moved to Georgia, and then to Louisiana, which is where he grew up speaking Spanish with his family for most of his childhood.
Well, according to his own descriptions in his book called “How I Live Now”, first album out of a long series of albums that he would record and make available to fans of country music singer/songwriters, “Blue Moon of Kentucky” was the first song he wrote and sang. According to Billy Currington, who was a 15-year-old washboard baby when he wrote this song, the title was taken from a poem by a young lady who was his neighbor. The poem talks about how she longed to live on a river, somewhere where no man ever lived or worked, that was free and wild and beautiful.
On his earliest studio album, “Mystery Train” Billy Currington sang about how he used to drink and listen to the radio all day long. A few years later this changed as he moved to Chicago, Illinois. According to him, this song was one of his favorites from that early days. And even though he moved on to other types of music, like rap and rock, he still would listen to country and western music at least once every couple of weeks. This is evident in his song called “Love is in the air”.
This is just an example of how much Billy Currington wanted to be a hit song singer, who eventually became one of the all time greats. In his words in his book “How I Live Now”, he once again reveals that he does drink and smoke and now does drink and smoke even while working on a song he is working on. So, even if Billy Currington never reached the peak of his career, at least he did some remarkable things in his early days. “The Billy Currington Story” is a great read if you have the chance to read some of his many hits.